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Draft Modern Slavery Bill

Anthony DouglasOn 6th March, I gave evidence to the joint committee of the House of Commons and the House of Lords on the draft Modern Slavery Bill. This is an important Bill, providing stronger powers to disrupt child and adult trafficking and introducing measures to protect the victims of contemporary slavery in all of its forms. The infrastructure to combat slavery has been significantly strengthened in the last few years. An example is the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, formed after the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecombe Bay in 2004. Another example is the way in which some local child protection systems have developed robust tracking systems for children missing from care, given the vulnerability of those children to being exploited. Our knowledge of child sexual exploitation is increasing as we understand more of how traffickers and gangs operate. In my evidence, I highlighted the importance – as I see it – of supporting trafficked children to access mainstream local Children’s Services, so that proper attention can be given to their social, health and education needs. The road to recovery after trauma is often a long one, hence the need for local services to give priority to this small but important group of vulnerable children. I support the Home Office pilot for special advocates for trafficked children in the crucial first few months when they have contact with the criminal and immigration systems in our country, and when the system, in the interests of prosecuting perpetrators, can fail to support victims enough. We await the outcome of this pilot scheme, and the Scottish Guardianship Scheme, with interest. In Cafcass, we will be producing updated guidance about child sexual exploitation and use of secure accommodation, with links to many of the first rate toolkits which have now been produced by Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs) to improve social work practice in this area.

Written by Chief Executive Anthony Douglas at 00:00

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